Importance of Planning in Poker

April 12, 2010 :: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

Tip #7 – The importance of planning out your poker game

Planning is undoubtedly the most important part of any long-term activity. You have to know what you are going to do, what your priorities are, what are you expecting out of the whole event and many things like that.

Poker is no exception to this. Poker is a long-term game, in which you are looking for long-term gains. These gains will not be achieved if you don’t plan carefully. Your goal, you motive your expectations should be well thought of and fixed. Be it pre-flop or post flop, there are always things to plan and strategize.

Planning how you will play during a tournament

You should know exactly how you want to play before you get started in a tournament. The best players always mix up their games, but they go into a tournament knowing exactly how passive or aggressive they want to be.

The place that this is the most important is when you are playing early hands in a tournament. Online, this sets the tone for the other players and they will want to try to classify you as soon as possible. If you are aggressive early in a tournament, players notice.

Playing Aggressive

The one time I suggest being aggressive early in a game is when you are surrounded by tight players who are just trying to survive. Since the blinds aren’t too expensive at first, you can make a probing bet to see the other people reactions.

If you play really loose and someone calls you on your early bluff, you’re going to have a hard time chasing people out later.

Playing Passive

If you are playing very few hands at first, people will take notice about the hands that you do play. This can give you an advantage. You should know that if you play a hand you would normally fold and do this out of position, nobody should call you except the players that have something good.

Then, watch the flop; if nothing comes up (specifically no face cards) raise them. If they just call that, recognize that you may be running into a monster. Players will tend not to raise and will let you bet into them in this situation.

Midway Switch

In every poker tournament that I have won, I have employed a tactic that I call the midway switch. This is the point of the tournament where I have survived where others have been knocked out and have a little bit more chips than I started with.

The plan is to intentionally change the way I am playing. For me, this usually entails going from playing cautious but confident to playing very aggressive seemingly out of no where. This throws most people through a loop for several hands.

From another persons standpoint, I might have pocket Aces or am sitting on the lucky horseshoe. I certainly must have something because I didn’t play that way before.

This tactic does one of two things for me. Either it propels me into the chip lead or it may mean that I give away a lot of my chip stack if someone can’t fold their hand.

I have had players tell me that they were thinking about folding their good flush after they caught me because it completely caught them off guard. I have also gotten people to fold top pair by keeping my foot on the betting pedal. That last bet on the river has chased many people away.

Planning your style of playing the hands you receive

The most important aspect of planning starts when you get your hand. At this point, you have to decide what kind of hand it is. It may be a strong hand, a drawing hand or a weak hand. According to the type of hand, that you have, you have to make your strategy for the rest of the game. The main thing to decide here is whether you want to go ahead with the game or leave it.

In case you want to continue with the game you have to make up your mind about the kind of hand you want to make. This may be a set, a straight or a flush. Once you have reached on the decision about the type of hand that you want to make, you should then observe your opponents for once. Try to make out how skilled they are and whether bluffing will be successful against them. And as it is unlikely that you are the only one strategizing on the table, you should try to work out which player can try to bluff at the flop.

At this stage, there is no way of knowing if you have the best hand and so you have no option but to wait till the flop for that. However, you should try to work out the probabilities. You can have an idea of the kind of hands people possess by the kind of moves they make.

Opponents may be tight or loose, aggressive or passive, according to the hand the hold. The more experienced you get, the better idea you will be able to have about the hands of the players. The less experienced players give away the strength of their hands very easily with their moves and expressions and thus you should try and take advantage of this weakness.

As the game progresses, you get a better idea of the kind of hand you are developing and thus you can be clearer about what you want to do with it. You may want to go passive, build up the pot, and try to take on a player or go straight for the pot. Consider all the possible options that you have at this stage and take the appropriate decision.

Another factor which will help you in making the decision is the size of the pot. Is it worth taking the risk? You should consider the loss that you will incur if you go ahead and loose and compare that with the size of the pot.

If your odds of winning are good, your hand is strong enough, your opponent seem to be weak and if the pot is worth it, then take the risks and try to win most of it. Or else, you should settle for the small amounts and stay back without risking too much. Because in poker it’s not about winning every game, it’s about emerging a gainer in the long term.

How to Spot a Bluff

March 22, 2010 :: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

Tip #6 – How to spot a bluff

how to spot bluff How to Spot a BluffIf you want to win big in poker, you must know how to analyze your opponents correctly. Knowledge of how to bluff is very important, but the knowledge about how to spot a bluff is even more important.

When you are playing a no limit poker and you do not know how to spot a bluff, then you might be a victim of other opponents to bluff on you. Even worse, if players know they can bluff you out of the pot, they will do it more often. This article includes a few things that will help you know if your opponent is bluffing you out of the pot.

First, remember that if your opponent is showing that he is weak, that means he is probably holding strong cards. If there is any hint of a bet that is put out there with the intentions of getting a call, you should fold your cards unless you have a potential straight or flush draw. In those cases, calling the small bets is worth the risk of getting over on the other player.

If he is showing that he is have a strong hand that means he could be pretending because he doesn’t think you have a great hand. You have to know the correct places to call. People will test and probe you for weakness and you don’t want these other players to be able to classify your style of poker playing. If you can afford it, you should call with a moderate hand in non-vital situations just to let everyone else know that you can’t be pushed around.

This is just a simple human nature. For example, if you have a weak hand and trying to bluff and don’t want your opponent to call, obviously you will act as if you are holding a strong hand and make a large bet so the opponents fold their cards and you win. Don’t do this too often though. You don’t want to become predictable. It’s easy to tell when a predictable player has a winning hand. They will bet the same amount (usually 3x the big blind or 1x the pot early in a hand) in because they want the chips in the pot and want it uncontested.

Some experienced players that are actually holding a strong hand will do things to pretend like they are bluffing in order to misguide you into calling. Not everyone will do this though, and you just have to find out which players will as your playing. In cases that you are playing against this type of player, you have to analyze the whole hand including every check and bet before you make a conclusion that he is lying or not.

If you aren’t sure, the safe bet is to fold. Like I said before, as long as you show the opponent that can’t be pushed around, folding any particular hand you are uncomfortable with is always a great play in the long run.

The critical point of bluffing is that most of the expert players can spot it almost unconsciously. What makes a player an “expert” is the shear amount of hands that they have played. If you’ve played more than 100,000 hands of Texas Hold’em, you’re going to have seen just about every situation imaginable. This doesn’t make you infallible, but it gives you a significant advantage over players who don’t pay attention or who are not very experienced.

Next, be conscious when your opponent stares at you. That means he is trying to read your expression and guessing that what type of cards are you holding. Players do this generally when they are not completely confident of their hand and they want to get a clue from your reaction whether to raise or fold.

Then the situation to be considered is when your opponent sits up erect, leans forward and gets a tone of arrogance in his voice. This reaction is generally when a player feels that he is next to be called, he will certainly show as if he is very strong contender by speaking aggressively and leaning forward so that other opponents may fold their cards. When the opponent throws a large bet into the pot very aggressively that means he is scared and doesn’t want you to complete a hand on him.

The players who talks too much while playing are easy to spot bluff, as such players when get any strong hand stop talking immediately. By this, you can understand that he got a strong hand and be careful. Notice the bets of the opponents very keenly, and see if the present bet matches his previous bets or not. A large bet is often a bluff, as the player want to buy the pot.

A great tell that these players will give when they are strong is playing with there chips prematurely, or before it is there turn. Things like counting how much they have will likely mean they are going to bet and are trying to decide how much to bet. They don’t even have to be physically touching the chips to recognize this if you are paying attention.

In addition, you must every time look for bodily tells the best way is to look your opponent’s eye and try to feel their fear. If they sound or look nervous, it could be a sign of bluffing. In brief if a player does any thing that he don’t do usually like talks much or be quite or leans forward or any such physical reactions show that he is scared and is bluffing in either way.

One last point I need to make. No one ever checks their cards after the flop with a good hand unless they are drunk. Most likely they can’t remember what both of their cards were and their top card didn’t hit. If the person is perfectly wasted, bet cautiously and get him to expose the strength of his hand. If not, raise big and get Mr. Double Check out of the hand.

Keeping all the above points in mind you can save you from being bluffed.

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Classify your opponents

January 15, 2010 :: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

Tip #5 – Classify your opponents

Most poker players are creatures of habit. After playing 4 or 5 rounds or 50+ hands, most players can be classified a certain type. The most notable types of players are the rock, the calling station, the fish, and the more and more popular “weak-tight” player.

The rock is the easiest of all to identify. They play tight poker, only playing premium hands. They are very conservative. They raise when they have top pair top kicker, or over pairs.  Rocks have a hard time folding their big hands, and will usually call down queens and kings with an ace on the board.  Because of this it is hard to bluff a rock post flop.

You want to identify the rocks so you know

  • who you can steal blinds from
  • who you can get paid off from when you hit a flop big
  • who 99% of the time will not bluff

The popularity of poker has led to many people trying to improve their game.  One of the first big things that people learn is to play less hands, or play tight.  This has led to an influx of rocks and his closely related style, the “weak tight” player.

Weak tight players are a lot like rocks.  Rocks will bet their good hands though.  Weak tight players are less aggressive.  They will not bet middle pair when it is pretty obvious that it is good.  Weak tight players will not make many moves if any.  An aggressive player can steam roll a weak tight player all game.  It is pretty easy to know where you stand in the hand against a weak tight player.

You want to identify the weak tight players so you know

  • who you can steal blinds from
  • who you can get to fold post flop
  • who 99% of the time will not bluff you

Fish are the life blood of the poker world.  They feed the entire poker ecosystem.  Fish are generally people who do not understand many of the fundamentals of Hold Em poker, call with any two cards preflop, call without proper odds, will draw to losing hands (inside straight draw with 3 to a flush on the flop), will draw dead, and will call to the river on most hands.

You want to identify the fish so you know

  • who you can value bet
  • who will try to chase draws without the proper odds
  • who you can double up through
  • who will pay off your big hand

Value betting is the opposite of slow playing.  Value betting is betting when you are pretty sure you have the best hand.  Playing a fish, 2nd pair, bottom pair, top pair bad kicker are often the winning hand and should be value bet.  Against a rock, the same hand could very well be a fold.

The calling station tag is for the players that never fold after hitting the flop, even if it is bottom pair, or 4th pair with three over cards on the board.  They never raise with bottom pair, but will call it all day if the price is right.  Many rocks, weak-tight players, and fish share this attribute.

Some fish are aggressive and will raise when they have crap because they saw Gus Hansen do it on TV.  Some will fall right into this calling station category and will not raise with anything, even the nuts.

You want to identify the calling stations so you know

  • who you should not bluff
  • who you can value bet
  • who will help build a pot
  • who you should not slow play
  • who will pay off your big hand

When I first started playing online poker tournaments, it was routine to see tables full of fish and calling stations.  As more and more people learned to be tight, most single table tournaments have 1 fish and 7 rocks.

Top Video Poker Tips

December 29, 2009 :: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

Yes, it’s quite simple realizing the importance of the role that is being played by the video poker in the 21st century world of gambling. This is not at all a surprise to a person who’s been paying even slightest of attention for the past few years or so. Getting into deep into this issue, however, an individual might feel tempted to make enquiry of just what it is all about the charisma of video poker which makes this very game so alluring to the millions of world wide.

One of the common features that the web sites providing top video poker uses in order to attract the newbie is to arrange and sponsor tournaments, termed as “satellites” where the winners get to enter into the real-life poker championships. This is in fact a lot more than just a gimmick to pull traffic. As a matter of fact, satellites are predominantly responsible for acquainting few of the world’s most acclaimed and loved players to the world of television.

It’s not a surprise that a number of differences prevail between the video poker and the standard style of playing it. A good number of players really thrive on such distinctions. The deficiency of the ability to read the opponent’s tells is quite the central thing here. Video poker fanatics generally learn with time to recognize the particular set of “invisible” tells, like as the betting patterns and most importantly the available reaction time. With constant practice, the skilled players can even read the virtual table with great bit of clarity as while facing an opponent individually.

In video poker, the play goes on at a lot faster rate. Online players seldom get time to even congratulate themselves on winning a strategy that functioned so well just 30seconds earlier before a complete new hand is handled by the computer automatically.

Then if you are a newbie to the video poker, then ensure that you always play on the lowest denomination machine unless and until a rise is observed in the level of your expertise. Refrain from the temptation of taking the big fat bets on, at least unless and until you turn in to an expert of the game.

Be patient and take your time with a view to study all the hands. It might sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be astonished hearing the number of video poker players who are sinking deep just because of being careless of the action of their hands. So, whenever required take as much of time as you require.

Finally, before landing in to a video poker site try to make an extensive research on their online poker site. Try to accumulate as much of information as possible about the video poker from the site and then decide the casino of your choice.

Maximize Chance of Winning

November 24, 2009 :: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

Tip #2 – Strategy to Maximize the Chance of Winning

You should start every poker game that you are in with a strategy.

Do you want to play conservatively at first or do you want to bet a lot and try to build an early lead?

When you are considering these possibilities, take notice at what your opponents are doing.

I’ll give you an example. If you are playing online poker site at a sit & go tournament with 1 table and nine players, try to notice the following within the first 10 hands played:

  1. Has every hand been contested? If people are willing to play often at first, especially multiple people per hand, they are likely to be trying to catch something. Either bet big to scare them away or stay out of those hands. Even if you do hit your hand, there’s a good chance that you’ll be exiting if that hand is beat.
  2. Have others place early large bets without good reason? One of two things, someone is trying to steal the blinds or someone is trying to get another person to think that they are stealing the blinds and calls. Either way, avoid these hands at first because the blinds are low and don’t hurt your chip stack. That is unless you have a powerful starting hand, where the obvious move is to put that person all in.
  3. Has the action been folded around to the blinds multiple times? This is a good sign that most people are playing tight and can be pushed out easily
  4. Is there anyone who has made a smooth call after a large raise pre-flop? This generally means that person is not all the way into the hand or else they would have re-raised. In cases of smaller raises pre-flop, a smooth call is saying the person is trying to catch their hand on the flop.
  5. Has there been more than one all-in before the blinds have gone up once? This reeks of inexperienced and impatient poker players. Avoid them at all cost unless you have a good hand to bust them with.

Playing this card game is not easy. In addition to the deep knowledge all the rules of the game a well-planned move is also required to win. It is basically a mind game where you have to put your best foot forward.

Starting Hands

There are some key points to keep in mind while playing Texas Holdem. You have to know about the different types of hands you can get and how to deal with them. Here are some of the descriptions of the various hands.

The game begins with each player having two cards to deal. There are 169 possible starting hands out of which some of them have been discussed below.

Strong Starting Hands:

These are hands that you always want to raise pre-flop: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, Any AK, AQ or AJ Suited

Here are starting hands that you have to be wary of your starting position (early position) before you make any raises: A10, KQ, KJ, QJ, 10′s, 9′s, 8′s, 7′s

Moderate Starting Hands:

These are hands that you would call the big blind with the intent of trying to hit the flop: K10, K9, K8, Q10, Q9, J10, J9, Suited connectors (example 9 10 of spades), pairs lower than 7′s

I would consider all other hands to be too weak to play with out already being in on the blinds.

Staying for the flop is a good option but you have to be cautious for the turn card. There should be some thinking before any act. Try to judge what the other players might do next. Is there a better chance of flush or straight for them? Is there an ace card in the flop which might ruin your high pair?

The game is all based on assumptions. People may play fair or may bluff their bet. You have your hand and the table. Keep your mind open and notice keenly the moves of all the players in the table. You will surely learn when to raise or bluff a be to get a hand on the pot. This article surely gives you a hint of ideas to play in the game.

The Most Important Poker Tip

November 12, 2009 :: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

(Sticky Post – This site will start offering a new poker tip about once a week. Today, I thought I would start the list with what I have deemed to be the most important poker tip)

Tip #1 – Always play within your bankroll – Bankroll Management – Build your bankroll

If you play sit and go poker tournaments, your bankroll should have 30 buy-ins.

If you play cash tables, you should have at least 200 big blinds.

Managing your bankroll is the biggest difference between being a winning player or going bust.

Poker is a very volatile game. Even the best players go on huge downswings. I have never went on more then a 30 buy in bender, and I have played in over 5,000 sit and gos. But I have had 28 buy in downswings, and if I wasn’t managing my money I would not have gotten to this point without busting.

I put $150 into a poker room and played $5 sit and go tournaments. 30 buyins * $5 tournaments = $150 starting bankroll.

I would play $5 tournaments until my bankroll reached $330, where I would switch to $11 tournaments. $330 = 30 buyins * $11 tournaments.

At $480 I could play $16 tournaments.
at $750 I could play in $25 tournaments.
etc.

Part of managing your money is to NOT take shots. Taking a shot means to play in a tournament outside of your bankroll. The guy with a $300 bankroll playing in $100 tournaments will go broke. It is only a matter of time. Do not take shots if you are looking to play your best poker.

I found working my way up in levels with my winnings was very gratifying. By having an adequate bankroll, it also very rarely felt much like gambling. If you go down 30 buyins at a particular level, I suggest playing a new game or going back down a level. That game isn’t for you.